Wimbledon’s decision to lift Russian and Belarusian player ban slammed as ‘immoral’

Shahida Jacobs
A logo at Wimbledon

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has condemned the All England Club’s (AELTC) decision to allow Russian and Belarusian players to compete at Wimbledon this year.

Following Moscow’s invasion of the Ukraine in February last year, AELTC and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) banned players from Russia and Belarus from competing at all tournaments in the United Kingdom, including Wimbledon.

The move was heavily criticised by the ATP and WTA with the two organisations stripping Wimbledon of ranking points while the LTA was hit with heavy fines and threatened with expulsion.

However, AELTC and the LTA have reversed the decisions and players from two countries will be allowed to compete this year although they will have to sign declarations of neutrality and not express support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in order to compete.

READ MORE: Full statement as Wimbledon reveal its verdict on Russian and Belarusian player ban

Kuleba has hit out at the decision and urged the British government to prevent athletes from the two countries from entering the UK by denying them visas.

“Wimbledon’s decision to permit the participation of Russian and Belarusian players is immoral. Has Russia ceased its aggression or atrocities? No, it’s just that Wimbledon decided to accommodate two accomplices in crime. I call on the UK government to deny visas to their players,” he wrote on Twitter.

The ATP and WTA, though, have welcomed the decision to allow Russian and Belarusian players to compete as neutrals at all events in the UK as the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Karen Khachanov, Aryna Sabalenka, Victoria Azarenka and Daria Kasatkina among others will all play at The Championships this year.

A joint statement read: “We are pleased that all players will have an opportunity to compete at Wimbledon and LTA events this summer. It has taken a collaborative effort across the sport to arrive at a workable solution which protects the fairness of the game.

“This remains an extremely difficult situation and we would like to thank Wimbledon and the LTA for their efforts in reaching this outcome, while reiterating our unequivocal condemnation of Russia’s war on Ukraine.”